Farm Progress

Do you have goals for your farm?

Those who have written goals do better than those without.

Maria Cox, Blogger

August 24, 2016

2 Min Read

How do you respond when someone asks you about your farming goals?

A respected financial advisor, Gilbert Joehl, dropped by last week to discuss financial planning. We discussed how he runs his business, and that he recently hired a business coach. The coach helps him stay on track and reach his written goals.

Gilbert then asked me to explain my goals. I stammered and stuttered and eventually said I didn’t have written goals.

He cited this blog about a Harvard study on why 3% of Harvard graduates make more than the other 97% combined. The study showed that only 3% of Harvard graduates had written goals. Ten years later, the same 3% made more than ten times as much as the 97% without written goals combined!

Enjoy farming’s joys and challenges

I returned to the farm in 2012 with some general goals and plans. First, I wanted to discover if I really did want to make a career of farming. Back then, I really wanted to enjoy farming and all of its joys and challenges. I wanted to continue the legacy of our farm by being the 6th generation on both sides of my family to farm in Greene County, IL. I decided to take the plunge and see if it was a fit for me. Thankfully, I absolutely love running the farm business.

My second goal was to rent additional cropland and manage it myself. My third goal was to buy into the family business. I worked to accomplish all of these goals in four years.  

Still, the conversation with Gilbert struck a chord with me and even made me embarrassed. I do not have written goals today. I am forward-looking when it comes to marketing, purchasing and planning. But, I do not have goals and timelines for achievement.

After some thought, I developed three general goals. The execution will take some effort and I also need to spend some time looking at the details of these goals. My goals need to be obtainable and realistic.

1. Increase the profitability of our hay, cattle, and row crop business.

2. Operate more with cash working capital versus borrowed working capital.

3. Create a new business in which we rely less on commodity markets for selling. 

I now have three general goals. They are broad, but I had to start somewhere. What are your goals? Do we need business coaches for our farms?

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Penton Agriculture.

About the Author(s)

Maria Cox


Maria Cox is a sixth generation grain, livestock, and hay farmer from White Hall, Ill.  She has been farming with her family since 2012, and also has experience in grain marketing and crop insurance.  She holds a M.S. in Agricultural Economics from Purdue University and a B.S. in Agribusiness from the University of Illinois. You can find her online at and twitter @mariacoxfarm.

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